Small businesses need help evaluating social media marketing success

Among the one quarter of British small business decision makers surveyed that report using Facebook to market their organisation, more than a third say they don’t think it has helped their business in any way, and only one fifth believe they are doing a great job using Facebook to market their business. The data reveals several misconceptions that help to explain these attitudes, and shows that small businesses are actually doing a better job than they think.

“We were surprised to see the misconceptions that many British small businesses have about what social media marketing success looks like – especially when their own results show they are doing a fantastic job using Facebook to drive customer engagement, find new customers and generate repeat sales,” explained Annette Iafrate, UK managing director at Constant Contact.

The survey also revealed a major misconception around engagement, demonstrating that Britain’s small businesses simply aren’t familiar enough with Engagement Marketing to recognise when they are doing it. In fact, nearly a third of decision makers whose small businesses use Facebook say they don’t know how they engage with Facebook fans, yet they also report employing a variety of engagement tactics on their Facebook pages.

Of those whose organisations use Facebook in some way:

  • 42 per cent are engaging with fans by responding to posts on their Facebook Timeline
  • 59 per cent use Facebook to post updates about products and services on their Facebook Timeline
  • 15 per cent ask people to ‘Like’ their page to get vouchers and offers
  • 14 per cent answer customer service issues
  • 9 per cent conduct polls or ask questions

“The great news here is that British small businesses are using Engagement Marketing to their benefit without even realising it,” said Iafrate. “Engagement isn’t complicated, nor does it have to be costly. Responding to fans, asking questions, and ‘Like-gating’ content or offers are all great ways to boost interaction with your fans. The best part for time-starved small businesses is that doing these things takes just a few minutes a day.”

Measurement may be one reason that small businesses are dissatisfied with their social media marketing results. Two thirds of those whose businesses use Facebook admit to not using any form of analytics, because they don’t have time, it’s too complicated and or  hard to understand. Among the 26 per cent of respondents that are measuring results and success, 40 per cent are looking for better ways to do so.
Another reason for the level of dissatisfaction with social media marketing results may be a lack of integration with othermarketing tactics. While 31 per cent of those whose businesses use Facebookreport that they promote their other social networks on their Facebook page, half said they do not integrate Facebook activities with email marketing.

“We know that small businesses have limited time to market their business, but it’s important that they think about ‘and’ rather than ‘or’,” said Iafrate. “While both social media marketing and email marketing can drive great results independently, the magic really happens when you combine the two, using each tactic’s strengths to generate the biggest impact possible. Those who aren’t integrating their efforts are missing a big opportunity.”

Easy ways to integrate the two channels include:

  • Include share buttons within email; 21 per cent of those using Facebook report doing this
  • Link to Facebook content from email newsletters; 19 per cent report doing this
  • Use a sign-up, or ‘Join My Mailing List’, form on Facebook to collect email addresses; six per cent report doing this
  • Ask Facebook fans to sign up for email newsletters and vice versa; 11 per cent report doing this
  • Ask email newsletter subscribers to Like them on Facebook; 13 per cent report doing this

“Our latest small business survey shows that there is a clear gap in understanding when it comes to recognising the impressive benefits social media marketing can bring – and indeed are already bringing – to small businesses across Britain,” concluded Iafrate